I always wondered why large SaaS companies needed so many software engineers, when their app was essentially finished. Like Uber has thousands of software engineers - working on Uber, not necessarily their self driving cars or Uber eats or whatever.
To me it seems like they are pouring most of those resources into “internal tooling”. I mean really at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what business you are in - customers are what makes the business.
I think traditionally, business owners understand this in what I thought of as a physical thing - i.e. standing behind the sales clerk, holding a clipboard and taking notes. Or being a sales clerk first, learning on the floor how to meet customers expectations, then getting promoted and turning around to teach the next ten sales clerks what they’ve learned.
Since jumping down the rabbit hole of building my own bespoke software, I’m slowly realizing a translation of this into a digital medium.
I am in a family business - I’m the fourth generation of dealing with this crap. My grandfather and my parents especially developed an incredibly redundant and what appears to be simple system of standard operating procedure over 40 years of essentially daily operations.
This includes every aspect of the business from counter sales to bookkeeping to production to expansion and so on.
When I think of the immensity of the design problem that I’m tackling - as in, “digitizing” the system - I question my own sanity.
It’s been nearly three years of this crap and every time I think I got it, something happens that makes me take a step back and see the trees I was just looking at are only a small part of the forest. Sometimes I wish I had an army of developers with me, I think we’d be solving problems faster at least. Anyway, I digress.
There are so many tools out there that address the problems you are talking about. Bubble itself has a lot of great tools built right into the editor for troubleshooting issues related to Users.
You can get pre-packaged products, like talk.to or intercom for example, to chat directly with your users in real time. Email, at least here in the United States, is a great way to market to customers - also very nicely built into Bubble. Additionally, it’s relatively straightforward to integrate things like SMS or even build your own messaging system within the app.
Repeating groups are your frenemy. You won’t wrangle your apps data until you master them. I’m unsure of other people’s apps, but for mine, for every repeating group my User sees, I have 5.
You can do all sorts of wonderful things when you have a list of all your users right in front of you. I put little buttons next to my User’s names and when I click it, money magically appears in my bank account! (Albeit like 5 days later…** looking at you, Stripe…**)
Of course, they want these damn invoices and records and blah blah so I have to go build that or they start yelling at me. Ok so I google image search “invoice UI”, scroll through a hundred pictures, find one that I think I can replicate in bubble then spend a week pulling my hair out until it works. (that part gets easier over time)
Then I start getting all my crap together for tax season and my accountant says “ok I need records of all these sales” and I can’t just be like, OK so what you gotta do is log onto my Bubble account, click on this app and then switch over to live development, open up the data tab and then the App Data tab and then find the view that says “All invoices new standard all fields view” and…you get the point.
So I build this thing and say ok just log on here and you can find it all
And she does and she goes “wow this is way better than a box of invoices, you did this?” and at that moment you are thinking she is kind of hot because yea, you know what? I DID do this and it fucking IS better! Go me !
Then as you are driving away you realise that you’re an idiot because you forgot to build that other thing so you rush home and build the thing and before you know it you’re like dude I have 100 pages of random ass tables and stuff I’m gonna spend eternity trying to get my life organized and walaah. You’ve got your dashboard !
So this is how I do it. I dunno it seems to me like it’s a chicken and an egg problem. You can’t understand your customers unless you have customers but once you start understanding your customers you’ll realize other things you need to understand about them and go build that thing and it’s like a relationship that you are having with 10k, 100k, 1 million other random strangers who throw money at you because they like the thing you built enough to pay for it and you are trying to quantify that relationship so you can make it easier but the better you get at it the more people use that asshole google thing to find you and then they want the thing and you’re like oh crap you are making this more complicated oh crap what have I done.
Just to be clear: I am not recommending this approach. I recommend hiring an army of developers and then letting them figure all this shit out.
I am also curious how others manage this because I have a helluva time some days!
Edit: wow I’m really procrastinating this is way longer than it needs to be